FOREWARNING: Whilst this article does contain spoilers of a great magnitude, if you’ve somehow gotten to this point without learning what happened and this is the article that finally gets you, then I just… I don’t… Actually you know what? That’s kind of impressive. Still. It’s been 7 years. The statue of limitations is long gone. Deal with it.
Ever since the screen abruptly cut to black at the conclusion of much beloved gangster series The Sopranos‘ final episode in 2007, the one lingering, unanswered question has remained unanswered: Did the series end with the unseen, POV death of lead character Tony Soprano (played iconically by the late, great James Gandolfini)?
The final scene has been picked apart to the nth degree (more on that in a bit), but until now series creator David Chase has remained tight lipped on his intentions with that final shot. Though he may have dropped the occasional vague hint here and there, there hasn’t been a definitive answer from him. That is, until now.
In a lengthy – and absolutely excellent – piece written about him
, Chase unexpectedly blurts out the answer to end all answers after being gently prodded.
“I had been talking with Chase for a few years when I finally asked him whether Tony was dead. We were in a tiny coffee shop, when, in the middle of a low-key chat about a writing problem I was having, I popped the question. Chase startled me by turning toward me and saying with sudden, explosive anger, “Why are we talking about this?” I answered, “I’m just curious.” And then, for whatever reason, he told me.
He shook his head “no.” And he said simply, “No he isn’t.” That was all.“
So there it is. According to the man who wrote the words himself, Tony Soprano did not die at the end of the show’s final scene.
Now the question is, do we trust that as an answer? Given bluntly, angrily, and under a little bit of duress? Can we ignore the fact that the show contains explicit mentions of death – as Bobby Bacala puts it “You probably don’t even hear it when it happens.” – coupled with a shooting scene involving Silvio Dante where he sees the blood of his shot friend before he registers the sounds that have accompanied it?
The magnificent thing about great art is that it’s always open for interpretation, even despite what its creator may say.
All I really hope is that somewhere in that universe we’re now no longer invited to watch, Pauly Walnuts is still sunning himself on a footpath outside a dingy suburban New Jersey deli.